Americans suffer from loneliness more than imagined. Young adults in particular are affected the most by loneliness according to a new survey conducted by Cigna.
The health insurance organization conducted a nationwide survey on 20,000 adults ages 18 and up and found that nearly half of Americans consider themselves to be "lonely."
Loneliness In America
Cigna used the UCLA Loneliness Scale, considered to be the most recommended tool for measuring loneliness, when it conducted the survey. The UCLA tool uses a variety of statements and a formula to measure people's loneliness based on their responses. The participants who scored between 20 and 80 on the UCLA were considered to be "lonely." Anyone who scored above an 80 was considered to have a greater amount of loneliness and isolation.
Fifty-four percent of the participants claim that felt no one "understands" them well, while 56 percent claimed that people who are around them aren't really "with" them.
Two out of 5 people stated that they "lacked" companionship and that the relationships they had weren't "meaningful." The study further revealed that young adults born between the mid-1990s and 2000s scored the highest number on the UCLA scale. Adults who were over the age of 72 had the lowest number on the loneliness scale.
Young Adults Suffer The Most
Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychiatrist at Brigham Young University, stated this new study brings awareness to the effect loneliness can have on younger adults. Holt-Lunstad was not a part of the Cigna experiment but has in the past stated through her own findings that loneliness can lead to various mental illnesses and even death.
"Too often people think that this [problem] is specific to older adults. This report helps with the recognition that this can affect those at younger ages," Holt-Lunstad stated.
In 2017, psychologist Jean Twenge, conducted research that showed social media had a highly negative effect on young adults, which led to an increasing rise in depression and suicide rates.
The Cigna scale didn't attribute their findings to social media, however, Holt-Lunstad stated that if a young adult is just scrolling through social media accounts instead of using it to reach out to people, it can attribute to a feeling of being "alone" or "left out."
Overall, the newest findings show that people who interacted with others, engaged in physical activity, and had a regular sleep pattern, scored lower on the loneliness scale. The study also showed that people who worked less were less lonely.
Holt-Lunstad hoped that this new study would be noticed by major health officials and organizations.